So where to next? Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, The UAE? Every 3 months or so this is the decision we face. Not a bad problem to have right?
For over a year and a half now, we have been living and working abroad; constantly meeting new people, having new experiences, learning about cultures and having the time of our lives doing so. All of this while working a full time job.
But how is this live and work abroad lifestyle possible?
This is a question we get asked a lot.
Our regular readers would know this, but it’s all made possible because we have set up an online business. Thanks to the Internet everything that we do can be organised and done from our laptops.
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Having this type of business has given us the freedom to travel and work from almost any location. I say almost because not every place is suited for remote workers like us.
We can’t just pick and choose any old city. Sure the city might be a great destination to visit, but does it tick all the right boxes for remote working?
To be able to live temporarily in a city and run our business productively there are a few important things that we must take into consideration. Things such as the availability of short-term accommodation, reliable internet and the type of visas available for that country.
So before quitting your jobs and gallivanting off to Thailand or Spain here’s some advice and insight into how we choose cities to live and work abroad.
Find a Country With a 3 Month+ Tourist Visa
When deciding where to live and work remotely next, countries that offer a 3 month tourist visa are on the top of our list. Tourist visas are designed for leisure and travel. They are the easiest to obtain, cost very little (sometimes nothing at all) and have the least restrictions.
But why does it have to be for 3 months? Well It doesn’t have to be. We just prefer slow travel and staying in a place for a minimum of 3 months at a time. This is for a number of reasons:
- We like to be as productive as possible with work, so if we are constantly moving around this really interrupts our schedule.
- By staying in a single city for 3 months, you really get to know a place and understand the culture better. Plus you find out about all the good things that are off the tourist trails.
- Accommodation and rentals can be hard to find if they are less than 3 months. Sure 1 and 2 month rentals are available, but you have a lot more options the longer you stay.
- Any type of membership; gym, co working space, yoga are more expensive the shorter the period.
- It helps avoid travel burnout.
- And we hate packing and unpacking so we try to keep that to a minimum.
Working online and running your own business requires you to be on the top of your game. Therefore it’s super important for us to have comfortable apartment where we can live and work productively from. Hostels, hotels or crowded share-houses just don’t cut it.
When looking for accommodation we make sure that the city has fully furnished modern apartments or rooms available for 3-6 months.
Now in my home country of Australia, finding accommodation for less than 6 months can be very difficult (and expensive!) And on top of that, most of them are unfurnished. However, in places where we have lived, especially in Asia and South America, there are lots of options to rent fully furnished apartments and rooms short term. Even month to month in some occasions. This is how we did the apartment hunt in Ho Chi Minh City.
The apartments will often include internet, electricity, water and even a maid that will comes and clean the entire place every week. How good is that?!
Reliable Internet and Work
Because our business is 100% online – fast, reliable internet is a must. If a country or city is known to have average internet speeds, we don’t even consider it.
Recently we were tossing up whether to live in Bali, Indonesia or in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After doing some research we discovered that the internet in Bali can be a bit iffy at times. So we decided on HCMC instead.
If you’re running an online business you cannot afford to live in a place where the internet is shit. It’s that simple.
While a city might have decent internet available, ultimately it comes down to what type of internet connection the apartment has. Now this is impossible to tell unless you are actually at the apartment using it. For this reason we never commit to a place without actually being there. When inspecting the apartment we will do an internet speed test first using the Ookla Speedtest mobile app.
Imagine signing a contract for 3 months, only to find out the internet is kaput. It would ruin us.
Co Working Spaces
Although this is not a necessity, having a coworking space or a shared office in the city is important to us. We prefer using co working spaces rather than always working from home as:
- It provides a great space to meet and connect with other people.
- We are more productive as there a less distractions.
- We are more focused on work when we’re in a work environment.
- It’s easier to stick to a schedule if you know you have to be somewhere.
Co working places are a good back up if the internet at your accommodation isn’t that great. When we were living in Chiang Mai, the apartment we had rented had really poor Wi-Fi at certain times of the day. However this wasn’t an issue as Chiang Mai had some great co working spaces that we could work at.
What else makes a city good for remote working?
Gyms and fitness
We love to exercise and it’s a massive part of our lives. So we are very happy if the city we choose to live in has a decent gym. The good thing is that this has never been a problem for us. We always manage to find a good gym no matter where we go.
The only negative is that surprisingly gyms in developing countries seem to be more expensive than equivalent gyms back home!
Supermarkets, local markets and food
Food and proper nutrition is very important to us. Most places we have lived, have had some really great supermarkets and local markets that stock pretty much all the food products we have back home.
We love eating the local food, but at the same time we love cooking and eating home food too. A good supermarket helps a lot!
Good friends and social life
For leisure (and sanity!) it’s important that we make friends and have some sort of social life where we are living. Some places this is easy, other places no so much.
Most cities have an active expat community. This can be a great way to make friends if you struggling to meet or connect with locals.
Do we get travel burnout?
As you can see we slow travel and because of this we don’t burn out. We set up in one place for 3-6 months. We make sure our apartment is comfortable and we eat properly and exercise regularly. This lifestyle is not one long vacation. This is just the way we live our lives now and we treat every place as our home.
We work just as much as we would if we were living home in Australia. The advantage is that our nights and weekends are used to explore new and exciting places and our options for vacations are now so varied.
So there is a bit to consider before moving to a new city; but it is definitely worth it. Every day we are constantly stimulated by new surroundings, meeting new people and a different way of life.
Hopefully this gives you an good understanding of how we are able to live in a new city every 3-6 months.
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As the co-founder of Fulltime Nomad, Johnny really believes the world is too big to stay in once place. In 2013 he broke away from his non-location independent job to chase his passion of travel and living abroad. Now he helps others do the same.